Thursday, July 10, 2014

Is healthcare consumer and patient engagement all of the time the new reality?

As healthcare continues its rapid evolution into a far more accountable, cost effective,  quality outcome and consumer driven model, it begs the question, is engagement now an all of the time new reality? Secondary to that question are healthcare organizations prepared for that new marketing realty?

Like anything in life and business, some are and the majority are not.   But be that as it may, it would seem that healthcare consumer or patient engagement is not a part time or some of the time activity. What it should be viewed as is the opportunity to create, engage, foster and nourish an enduring relationship with those individuals and families.

That is a scary proposition for some healthcare organizations. It means being accountable and responsible to those you serve and meeting their needs by delivering on the brand promises day in and day out.  I would also suggest that this extends to area employers as well.  Otherwise you will see more outmigration from your community for care because others can do it better, faster and more cost effectively.  

After all, healthcare is a $2.8 trillion dollars business and the competition from traditional and nontraditional providers will only get more intense. And that will be at the hospitals expense. They will become go to destinations for healthcare using effective “all the time” engagement strategies.

So what to do?

Here are nine engagement strategies you need to employ:

1. Integrate your engagement solutions. That means information is delivered seamlessly so that they can interact with you any way they want, when they want too. 

2.  Marketing should be using both push and pull messaging.  Messaging needs to be relevant to the audiences at the point in time it’s needed that is personalized, customized, and aware of the cultural heritage and influences tailored to them.

3. Incentives and motivational techniques will be needed to keep patient engaged. That doesn't mean cash. Look to the gaming industry for gaming technology and gaming prediction, for ways to engage without cash. Be creative.  Look outside healthcare for ideas, tools and techniques to engage. 

4. Create a sense of community.  You have to compete and one needs to feed the beast. The hospital has not yet tipped to being a cost center form a revenue center. That day will come but not for a while yet.  Get into the inner circle of the audience and become the trusted advisor. It's not just about loyalty. Shape the behaviors to the point where they will recommend unconditionally.

5. Know the audience and with whom one is speaking too. This is really back-to-basics CRM understanding the gender, age, integration of risk assessments, culture etc.  One cannot engage effectively   unless there is intimate knowledge about them, their needs and how to tailor the information they need to engage them.

6. Test and measure. This is no time to be reactive in approaching and engaging.  The only way to can figure out if it's working is to test and measure in a very methodical way.

7. Use technology.  We live in a world of technology and you need to run a multifaceted, highly integrated campaign. With social media, smartphones, web, text messaging, mobile messaging, etc., eighty percent of consumers want the option of interactive with a healthcare provider via their smartphones from a survey conducted by FICO. The healthcare consumer and patient are inviting healthcare organizations to engage them and engage them all the time.

8. Know the influence of culture on behavior to engage.

9. Time it right, and add value.  If the health messaging is not resonating with the healthcare consumer or patient when they receive it, then one has lost them. Communicate relevant messages to a committed patient right before healthcare decisions are made. That means knowing the patient like have never before.

For example, a patient or healthcare consumer, going to a restaurant to eat, or a supermarket to purchase groceries, means sending them health messages at that time, in order to enable them to make the right food choices.  It's not impossible.

The healthcare consumer and patent is moving from passive healthcare participants to active healthcare participants.  They are making choices and expecting to be engaged not part of the time, but all of the time. That's why you engage them. 

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